F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

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This weekend I spontaneously joined members of my church for a retreat at Camp Taconic. I had very limited phone reception and it was exactly what my family needed. My children got my undivided attention. This weekend was not only about praising God and having fun, but also about overcoming personal fears. My biggest fear in the world is water and drowning. I have very limited swimming skills that John-Marlon taught me, but I refused to have him teach me any further because I was too afraid. I almost drowned when I was 10 and never recovered from that nightmare. While at Camp Taconic they required a swim test in order to swim in the deep end of the lake. Both Natalia and Marken (my kids) passed with flying colors – they urged me to also take the test, but I knew in my heart I could not pass it. After they insisted, I at least try. I jumped in and almost immediately started gasping for air but found the strength to proceed with the test. I didn’t want to let my children down. The swim test consisted of swimming 75 yards (swim 25 yards, turn-around and do it again 2more times) or in other words (3/4 of a football field) and then treading water for 1 minute.

As I swam the last 25 yards I desperately wanted to quit but could hear my kids cheering for me and I completed the three rounds. Once I heard the lifeguard yell for me to start treading water, I panicked because I realized I that I have never learned how to tread water. My only training was minutes before from my beautiful Natalia and her new friend Julia. I came out of the lake feeling defeated, even though I gave it my all. I couldn’t do it.

Hours later, and minutes before the waterside activities closed, I got the urge to try again. I really wanted to do it for my husband. I wanted to show him how far I have come with not only being adventurous with my children just as he was, but overcoming my darkest fears. I have already overcome my fear of the dark, and this would be another one for me to conquer. My beautiful friend Jeannette asked me if she, Erin and Mary by the lakeside can say a prayer for me before I tried again. 3 amazing women prayed over me before I attempted one last time. The lifeguard had also suggested that singing a favorite song as I am in the water will distract me from the task at hand.

I walked up to the edge of the deck and just stared at the water and prayed. The lifeguard gave me some final tips as my 6 year old Ava stood there watching me and saying “you can do it mommy”; the second lifeguard joked that I should imagine Shaun T yelling “C’mon y’all let’s go!”. I smiled awkwardly and took the plunge. The moment my head surfaced above water I panicked, and then just as quickly remembered…sing, just sing. I began to play Gone, Gone, Gone in my head. I could barely remember the words…but then it came to me…”Give me reasons to believe, that you would do the same for me” – I placed all my trust in God and in Marlon. As I made the last turn-around, I continued to sing the song in my head, but the presence of fear overtook me and as I struggled to keep my body moving, and my mind began to have a battle all of its own. I had a voice in my head that literally said “you can’t do this”. Before I could entertain the thought – I heard the life guard yell “tread water”, and this was it. It was do or die. I began to tread and could hear my kids, my friends, the lifeguards cheering for me and my biggest worry was letting them all down. I kept seeing the one lifeguard look at the other lifeguard for a time check , and it was as if he was begging for him to speed up the clock.

I know he felt terrible for me as he could see the look of panic, desperation, despair as I began to flail my arms and legs in a motion that could only indicate “HELP ME”. My friend Jeanette later shared that she could see that that it in my face that I just wanted to give up, but was so proud of me as I kept fighting to stay afloat. The lifeguard kept yelling for me to hang in there….and then I heard it…..the CHEERS! I had completed the swim test. I was so weak that I could barely make it back to the ladder, but I did. I emerged to the biggest hugs and high -fives…and earned my red bracelet. I conquered the swim test and I overcame my darkest fear!

We ended the evening with lighting a flying sky lantern in John-Marlon’s name, and as it flew up into the night sky amongst hundreds maybe even thousands of stars – we yelled “WE LOVE YOU DAD!”

As you start a new day, a new week tomorrow…remember that any fears you have…should be handed back to God. Let him take care of your worries. NOW, I don’t recommend you jump in a deep lake if you can’t swim, however, do remember that there is no such think as being fearless, but fearing less is definitely something that is attainable to us all.

One Response to “F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

  • Here I am again…your stalker. As I mentioned in an email I sent you earlier today, I tend to seek you out in time of dispair. Reading this post has given me a sense of hope. See, tomorrow, I start training at the Nassau County Police Academy as part of my LB Auxiliary duties. The problem? As part of training, I have to be handcuffed and I’m am EXTREMELY claustrophobic. Reading your story has inspired me. I know I can do this and I will think of you as I do it. Thanks! PS. I kid you not, as I was reading the last line of this post, Gone, Gone, Gone started playing. I think your husband is thanking you for helping so many people!! =)

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